It’s summer, and that means that we’re practically required to check off certain items on the to-do list. One of those should be sipping a cold glass of perfectly brewed iced tea while swinging in a hammock. OK, we’re willing to let you slide a bit on the hammock part if you don’t have access to one, but we’re not budging on the iced tea! There’s a rule, though. You can’t cheat by buying some pre-made brew at the grocery store. We’re talking about a true, home-made pitcher of iced tea. Here’s how to make the best batch in the world.
Like many other types of food, making a great batch of iced tea starts with your ingredients. Invest in some decent tea—not those boxed tea bags you buy at the grocery store. Those will only give you a boring, flat-tasting tea. Instead, try to find containers of loose tea from a reputable producer. The other major ingredient of a great pitcher of iced tea is one that’s often overlooked. We’re talking about water. If the water out of your tap tastes a bit funky, why would you use it to make tea? Instead, use bottled spring water or at the very least, filtered tap water.
As for brewing your tea, there are several methods you can choose from and each has its own merits.
Hot brewing is great if you’re only going to make a glass or two. Start by adding your loose tea leaves to a pitcher, then pour one cup of hot water (around 190 degrees) over the top. Steep for five minutes, then strain any of the loose leaves out with a strainer. Add a cup of cold water to the mix to dilute it, then serve it over ice.
Some argue that cold brewing is the best method for making iced tea, and we tend to agree. Start by pouring two cups of cold water in a pitcher, along with a tablespoon of loose tea. Stick the pitcher in the refrigerator for at least eight hours (or overnight). Then, simply pour over ice and enjoy!
Sun brewing is the most old-school method of making iced tea. To make sun-brewed tea, follow the same steps as cold brewing, except you’ll want to soak your tea leaves in boiling water to sterilize them before you begin. It won’t take long—just enough to get the leaves wet. Once you’ve added your cold water, set the pitcher out in the sun for about six hours, then pour over ice.
If you prefer sweet tea, don’t make the mistake of just plopping a spoonful of sugar into your glass! It won’t dissolve and you’ll only end up with a pile of sugar at the bottom of your glass. Instead, add a tablespoon of simple syrup (bonus points if you make it yourself).